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Winnie-the-Pooh and the healthy hunny

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Hunny jarIn childhood my favourite books included A. A. Milne’s stories about Winnie-the-Pooh, with their charming illustrations by Ernest Shepard. Their appeal has survived, despite the efforts of the Walt Disney Corporation.

After buying the rights to the Pooh characters from Milne’s widow, Disney deleted the hyphens from Pooh’s name and proceeded to issue a range of inane cartoon movies, with none of the subtlety of the original books, accompanied by a mass of crass Pooh-related merchandise.

Disney even introduced a gopher as a pointless new character and replaced Christopher Robin with a girl — a six-year-old redheaded tomboy.

So why am I writing about Pooh? First, because 18 January, A. A. Milne’s birthday, has been designated as Winnie-The-Pooh Day; secondly, because despite Disney’s vandalism I still love that vulnerable little bear and share his fondness for “hunny”.

Honey has, of course, been used medicinally for many years (at least 2,700), either taken internally or applied topically for a variety of ailments. It has traditionally been employed for its antibacterial and antiseptic actions, but it is only recently that these properties have been well researched.

Honey is essentially a saturated mixture of monosaccharides with a pH commonly between 3.2 and 4.5. Its antibacterial activity results from a combination of osmosis, acidity and hydrogen peroxide, which is slowly released when honey is diluted by body fluids.

The osmotic effects and acidity make honey a poor environment for the growth of many bacteria, and the hydrogen peroxide is bad news for anaerobic microbes. Wound gels containing honey are now being used in the battle against meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections.

Some studies have also advocated the application of honey to wounds to reduce odours, swelling and scarring and to prevent dressings from sticking. And a review in the Cochrane Library suggests that honey could reduce the healing time for burns by up to four days.

Honey has also been used for centuries for sore throats and coughs, often mixed with lemon juice. It has been shown to alleviate soreness by coating the throat’s mucous membranes, and its antibacterial properties help in healing sore throats and laryngitis. Recent research suggests that it may be more effective than many common medicinal products.

With hunny offering all these benefits, it is no surprise that the now octogenarian Winnie-the-Pooh has remained in rude health despite his tendency to obesity.

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From: Beyond pharmacy blog

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